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Aging Microbiome Program


One of the basic mechanisms shared in age-related diseases (ARDs) and geriatric syndromes is chronic low-grade inflammation called inflamm-aging. This inflammation impacts immune function leading to a gradual deterioration of the immune system, called immunosenescence. Currently both inflamm-aging and immunosenescence stand at the origin of most ARDs, such as infections, cancers, and neurodegenerative disorders and are fertile ground for the development of diseases mostly considered as age-related. Dysbiosis, or microbial imbalance/maladaptation, of the intestinal microbiome might just serve as the stimuli for fueling

inflamm-aging, and accordingly it has become a major focus of aging research. Increased proportions of pro- and reduced proportions of anti-inflammatory bacteria in the intestine are associated with systemic inflammatory states and have been linked to many ARDs. Dysbiosis in the gut might also serve to promote pathogen colonization and a reservoir for spread of the pathogen leading to disease.  

We have published findings demonstrating how older adults living in nursing home setting develop a pro-dysbiotic dysbiosis that is influenced by the length of time at a facility, age, frailty, and types of medications they are exposed to. One particular pathogen we have studied, Clostridioides difficile, is prevalent as a colonizing pathogen in the nursing home setting and associates with a microbiome with higher abundances of inflammatory-associated bacterial taxa and lower abundances of taxa with anti-inflammatory or symbiotic properties. Our current work funded by NIH-NIA ( is studying the microbiome of older adults as they transition into the nursing home and identifying which factors are associated with a resident becoming a C. difficile carrier. Ongoing work focuses on how the gut microbiome interacts with both colonizing pathogens and the aging immune system. Manipulating the gut microbiome may prove to be a key strategy in the reduction of pathogen colonization within the nursing home.

Selected Publications

The Nursing Home Older Adult Gut Microbiome Composition Shows Time-dependent Dysbiosis and is Influenced by Medication Exposures, Age, Environment, and Frailty.

Aging, Frailty, and the Microbiome: How Dysbiosis Influences Human Aging and Disease.

The nursing home elder microbiome stability and associations with age, frailty, nutrition, and physical location.

The High Prevalence of Clostridioides difficile among Nursing Home Elders Associates with a Dysbiotic Microbiome. Gut Microbes.